British Columbia Nixes Fixed-Term Leases: 3 Ways to Cope

by | Jan 2, 2018 | Tenant Screening

One-year leases have long been the standard for residential rental properties. If the tenant is good, they are invited to stay another year. And if the tenant is bad, the landlord always has the option of running the clock — waiting it out — rather than spending time and money on an eviction.

British Columbia recently eliminated vacancy clauses in most tenancy agreements, which means that ousting a tenant at the end of a year is no longer an option.

Despite the disadvantages of this latest rental restriction, there may be a silver lining: landlords will need to break some bad habits, and adopt healthier ones.

Here are 3 ways to cope:

1. Screen all tenants as though they will never leave. Landlords who run fixed-term rentals can be lulled into a false sense of confidence. After all, how much damage could a tenant do in a month, or in a year? The belief that a bad tenant can be evicted without income loss is a trap. Every rental applicant — whether for one night, one month, or one year — should be treated like someone who will be caring for the property for a very long time.

With that in mind, running a tenant credit report to uncover chronic late payments or fraud seems a lot less onerous. So does spending a few minutes speaking with the applicant’s previous landlords.

2. Don’t delay maintenance and repairs. It’s easy to defer any needed work on the property until the vacancy at the end of a fixed-term lease. However, that practice is one of the reasons that long-term tenants tend to cause the most damage. Routine maintenance or repairs on the unit can’t wait until the end of the year. Come up with a plan for routine maintenance, and share that with the tenant. Create a system for reporting and completing repairs. Waiting until the tenant moves on is no longer an option.

3. Managing a rental property is a job, and landlords can’t telecommute. With no term on the tenancy, landlords must accept the fact that a tenancy is not temporary — a landlord is in it for the long haul. One year seems easy enough — just sit back and collect rent. But ten years? That’s another matter.

There is no avoiding the reality that tenants need supervision, no matter how long they stay. This new rule will test a landlord’s level of commitment. That may require an attitude adjustment, but the advantage is avoiding catastrophic property damage from unsupervised tenants.

Landlords who will be far away, have no experience, or are not interested in coming up to speed on their rights and responsibilities always have the option of bringing in an expert. Property managers can find the right tenants and watch over the property, turning potential catastrophe into cash flow. Everyone else will need to roll up their sleeves, and get to work.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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